22 November, 2010

I surrender, undefeated

How long does it take to discover if you're no good at something?  Three days into the 30-day NaNoWriMo challenge I discovered an interesting fact about myself:  I'm not cut out to be a speed writer.Twenty-two days have done nothing except substantiate that fact.

This should come as no surprise to those who know me.  I'm your typical, garden variety Virgo:  shy. reliable, practical, intelligent and analytical.  Oh, and did I mention fussy, overcritical, perfectionist and a worrier?  These are not the traits of a successful NaNo marathon writer.

I understand the principles of the NaNo. Obviously you have to get something down on the page -- anything -- before you can try and revise it into something polished and publishable. As a journalist I learned to just put a piece of paper in the typewriter (yes, I'm that old) and start typing.  Eventually the "good" stuff would start flowing and you could strike out the bad beginning.  

But the whole idea, or maybe just the only way to survive, NaNo is to eradicate all thoughts of editing -- self-editing as you write or post-writing editing -- at least until December 1st.  There's simply no other way to produce 50,000 words.  And I can't wait that long to fix the plot/character/grammar/logic problems that I've already created in the piece.  My finger keeps twitching at the DELETE key.  It's become an uncontrollable tic.  

I didn't want to be considered a quitter, so for days, I've fought my inner editing demons and written...and written...and written.  Almost 20,000 words of pure, unadulterated bad prose.  Remember that old joke about "there must be a pony in there somewhere?" (If you don't, email me and I'll tell it to you.)  Well, I feel that way about what I've written so far -- there must be a mystery in there somewhere, but finding it isn't going to be easy to find amongst the padded descriptions, monstrous background dumps, and  rambling characters.   And believe me, stream of consciousness dialogue is not pretty. 

I once learned a wonderful word: logorrhea.  It  basically means verbal diarrhea.  NaNo has given me a serious case of its close cousin: diarrhea of the keyboard. 

To paraphrase Peter Finch in Network:  I'M FRUSTRATED AS HELL, AND I'M GOING TO EDIT!

16 November, 2010

Dinner Anyone?

If you're looking for something to do for dinner this Thursday night -- and you have $1,000 per person to spend -- you might consider attending the Daniel Fall Game Feast.

The annual event benefits the Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation. If you're not a "foodie" this may not mean anything to you, but both Danial Boulud and the Bocuse d'Or are legendary in the culinary world. Think Arthur Conan Doyle (or Agatha Christie) and the Edgar Awards.

This year's dinner is hosted by culinary master Boulud, as well as Ariane Daguin:  owner of  D’Artagnan gourmet foods and  founder of Les Nouvelles Mères Cuisinières, an international association of women chefs.

If, like me, you're an enthusiastic foodie, but find yourself a little short of cash, you can still dream. The evening will begin at 6:30 pm with a Champagne Reception and succulent charcuterie buffet, where you’ll indulge in exotic game dishes like warm tourte of wild grouse and juniper.

Then, at 7:30, diners will sit down for the five-course dinner menu including: a robust soup of red-legged partridge (a gamebird in the pheasant family) studded with foie gras and cabbage, served underneath a dome of delicate pâte feuilletée; warm duck salad with porcini mushrooms, dates, and peppery arugula; and pillows of chestnut ravioli stuffed with wild hare.  All this paired with only the finest wines.

A thousand dollars is a steep for me (discounted tickets are available for only $800), so I'll be eating my own cooking on Thursday, but if I close my eyes, and let my imagination run wild, maybe my roasted chicken and Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon will morph into red-legged partridge and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  Or, then again, maybe not.

15 November, 2010

Crime Bake Withdrawal Symptoms

Crime Bake is over.  What can I say except I'm counting the days until next year's event - the 10th anniversary! It was great to meet up with old friends and meet new ones - lots of them, thanks to Hank Philippi Ryan's genius scavenger hunt.

I'm experiencing my normal "withdrawal" symptoms: a renewed energy and determination to finish my manuscript, find an agent, and get published,  and a sadness that I won't see many friends until next fall.

This year's theme -- "Written in Blood" -- paid homage to guest of honour Charlaine Harris.  Although Sookie Stackhouse did not appear in person, she was certainly there in spirit.  In fact, her alterego made an appearance at the costume event! And a screening of HBO's True Blood closed out Day 1 in a most fitting manner.

A second day of learning to hone our writing craft skills was topped with the Red & Black Banquet and Vampire Ball.  Just let your imagination run wild and you won't even be close to the real event!  Vampire and ghouls dancing with everyone from Little Dead Riding Hood to Wednesday Addams (complete with her guillotined Marie Antoinette doll).  Oh, and did I forget to mention the bottles of Vampire wine?

The Master Classes, seminars, sessions and panels were, as always, informative, entertaining and studded with successful authors.   What a thrill to see Charlaine Harris, Dennis Lehane, Katherine Hall Paige and Julia Spencer-Fleming all together on the dais in a session moderated by Hallie Ephron.  I can only hope that breathing the same air will kick start my writing this week. 

I was lucky enough to win one of the raffle baskets of books, which included Rhys Bowen's newest mystery Royal Blood.  Don't expect I'll get much done around here until I finish reading it!  Between the wonderful basket, all the books I bought, including a copy of the Thin Ice anthology, I'm  a happy camper.  But I foresee many late nights of page turning.

So here's to next year everyone.  And a special thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this year's event such a huge success!